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Nurse-led community IV therapy service saves the NHS over one million in three years

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A nurse-led community IV therapy service at a trust in Cheshire has saved the NHS over one million in just three years.

The service, run by nurses at Warrington PCT, provides an alternative to hospital admission by enabling nurses to administer IV therapy to patients within their own homes.

Nurses involved in the service have shared their latest audit data with Nursing Times. Of the 751 patients treated by the ‘admissions avoidance’ service between September 2005 and November 2008, only 27 had to be admitted to hospital – just 3.6% of the total number of patients referred to the service during that time.

This resulted in over 7,000 bed days saved. At a cost of around£2,353 per patient for IV therapy treatment in hospital – compared to just£886 for patients using the IV service – the trust saved almost£1,500 per patient.

Nurses in the dedicated IV therapy team administer IV antibiotics and IV iron to patients with a range of conditions. All patients are cannulated in the community so there is no need for them to go to hospital at all.

All patients are given a 90-minute advice and education session on the first visit, including how to care for their cannula to prevent infection.

The service also has an impressive infection control record. Jannine Grundy, IV therapy team leader for the Warrington service, said: ‘We use an aseptic non-touch technique approach to administration and as long as I have been here there have been no cases of MRSA or Clostridium difficile reported. The incidence of phlebities is less than 1%.’

The service is a successful example of a previously hospital-based service moving into the community in line with the aims of government plans set out in the white paper ‘Your Health, Your Care, Your Say’, which was published in 2006.

Lynn Young, RCN primary care advisor, said that although, community IV therapy teams was not a brand new innovation, audit results such as these meant the nurses involved in this type of service were finally getting the recognition they deserved.

‘You can’t take patients into hospital just to have intravenous drugs. IV administration in the community is normal, safe practice and should be happening everywhere,’ she said.

‘But this also a workforce issue,’ she added. ‘If services are to be moved out of the acute sector and into the community, there need to be enough community nurses to do the work.’

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